By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN For Katie Bernick, few things in life can compete with a well-loved canine.
“They’re the happiest little things,” she said. “They brighten your day”
And, ever since she opened Bernick’s Barking Bathhouse April 10, dogs seem to be happier than ever.
Bernick’s full service grooming business (7493 Brighton Ave. SE in Delano) welcomes dogs of all breeds, sizes, and personalities.
She is proficient in breed cuts and hand scissoring, and goes to extensive measures to ensure each pet’s comfort.
“It’s rewarding I really love it,” she said.
Bernick cares about the details, such as providing a clean, safe environment, and only using premium shampoos and conditioners.
“It’s really hard to find a good groomer,” she said. “A lot of people think it’s easy, and that anyone can do it, but it takes skill. Groomers need to have a lot of patience, and they have to really care.”
Bernick discovered her passion for grooming through a family friend who owns Kottage Kennels in Georgia.
“The more I got into it, the more I liked it,” Bernick said.
Growing up, Bernick thought she had a different calling, however.
“When I was 5, if I were asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said a photographer,” she noted.
As an animal lover, Bernick was drawn to the idea of horse photography. After taking a few college courses and working with a horse photographer, however, she decided it wasn’t a perfect fit.
“I loved it, but it just wasn’t what I wanted to do every day,” she said, adding that she would have had to give up showing horses in order to pursue that career.
Bernick wasn’t sure what to do next, but Axel Rose (the Australian Shepherd she got that year) soon pointed her in the right direction.
“Since the first day I got him, the two of us have been inseparable,” Bernick noted. “Because of Axel, I realized I wanted to incorporate dogs into my day-to-day life.”
Soon after, Bernick’s friend in Georgia suggested she explore the field of grooming.
“I thought I’d give it a try, not really knowing what to expect,” Bernick said.
She and Axel headed south for 10 months, where Bernick learned to groom and run a kennel alongside three talented professionals.
Back in Minnesota, Bernick applied for a job at a high-end grooming spa in Minnetonka. Her employer was immediately impressed, telling her it looked like she had at least five years of experience.
Although Bernick has a natural knack for grooming, the skills didn’t develop overnight. Her first time attempting a groom, she was by herself with one of her family’s dogs.
“He was probably on the table eight hours,” Bernick laughed. “Luckily, he’s a little saint.”
Now, grooming has become second nature for Bernick, and she especially enjoys helping dogs that arrive uncomfortable from matted fur.
“You see them transform during the grooming,” she said.
Comforting timid dogs is also rewarding.
“One dog owner had taken her pet to many groomers, and whenever he’d come home, he’d cower in the corner,” Bernick said. “When she brought him here, he didn’t do that. She said he came home so happy.”
For Bernick, the best part of the job is seeing how pleased owners are with their pet’s new look.
Some owners have a certain style in mind when they arrive, while others are open to suggestions.
“Every dog has a unique personality,” Bernick said. “I like to let that shine through.”
Bernick’s Barking Bathhouse is open Tuesday through Saturday, with appointments available as early as 7 a.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. Saturdays.
For more information, call (612) 875-9879, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to http://www.bernicksbb.com/